Spain’s Imanol Erviti has only won two races in his professional career and both of those came at the Vuelta a España.
The first one was in 2008, when he out-kicked Nicolas Roche in stage 18. Flash forward to Tuesday’s rough-and-tumble 175.7km 10th stage from Tarragona to Vilanova I la Geltrú over the short but very steep Cat. 1 with 30km to go, and Erviti put his second notch in his palmares.
This time, he attacked out of a seven-man breakaway after clearing the Alt del Rat Penat and soloed home the victory. This time he could savor the moment before crossing his line victorious, 37 seconds ahead of the chasing Romain Zingle (Cofidis).
“I’ve only won twice but each time was very special here at the Vuelta. This time I could enjoy it a little more because the first win was very tight against Roche,” Erviti said. “I’m a good rolleur and I knew my best shot was to attack from afar. I had good legs and opened up a gap and held it to the line.”
The victory was also two in a row for Caisse d’Epargne, which claimed Sunday’s stage with David Lopez.
‘Purito’ gets his jersey
The hilly transition stage ahead of Wednesday’s first real summit finish of the 2010 Vuelta was hot from the gun.
Attacks were coming left and right as riders tried to escape the clutches of the peloton, but Katusha was intent on keeping things together until the day’s first hot sprint at 41.2km to give Joaquim Rodríguez to break the deadlock with overnight leader Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
The pair has been tied, but Antón got the jersey based on best stage finishes through the Vuelta. Because there hasn’t been an individual time trial, the tradition tie-breaker of tenths of a second could not be applied.
Rodríguez has been steaming since Saturday’s eighth stage when race officials nullified an early hot sprint just moments after dozens of riders were caught up in a crash. Rodríguez shot out to claim a two-second bonus that day and thought he would have enough to take the jersey, especially when he gapped Antón coming across the line at Xorret de Catí.
But race officials nullified the sprint and then said the pair crossed the line together at Catí, and gave Antón the jersey.
On Tuesday, just as Rodríguez was riding into his native Catalunya, Katusha made sure the bunch arrived together to contest the intermediate sprint at Valls. Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar finished 1-2, but Rodríguez was once again third, earning him two seconds.
That was eventually enough to earn him the leader’s jersey when the top GC contenders crossed the line together at 1:38 back, but not before Antón had one last joke for Rodríguez.
“Antón came up to me during the race and told me the judges had nullified the sprint again today,” Rodríguez recounted. “I stopped breathing for a second and then I realized he was joking. I am happy to finally get the jersey for my team. They’ve worked their tails off for me and I’m glad to get it today.”
Rodríguez and Antón swapped places on GC, with “Purito” taking the red leader’s jersey and Antón slipping to second at two seconds back. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) remained third, now four seconds back.
Despite the switch in the leader’s jersey, there was no major shakeup in the overall standings.
Wednesday the Pyrénées
The Vuelta hit its halfway mark Tuesday and heads into new territory with Wednesday’s 208km 11th stage from Vilanova I la Geltrú to Andorra high in the Pyrénées.
Both Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Columbia) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transitions) were able to stay with the front pack Tuesday going over the Alt del Rat Penat. The lead group was whittled down to about 30 riders, but ballooned to 50 as chasing riders caught back on for the final charge across the line.
Van Garderen is 11th at 1:28 back and Danielson is 15th at 1:54 back.
Both are poised to move up as the race moves into favored terrain. Van Garderen and Danielson both say they prefer longer, steadier climbs instead of the short, explosive walls and ramps that the Vuelta’s tackled so far in its challenging route in the opening half.
Wednesday’s stage is very long and only begins to climb once the race leaves Spain and enters the principality of Andorra. The final summit to Pal/Valnord is 10km with an average grade of 6.5 percent. The road climbs nearly 2,000 vertical feet and has ramps as steep as 10 percent, enough to cause some damage among the GC contenders.
Antón was philosophical about losing the jersey and said he’s still on form as the race turns into the decisive second half.
“You have to look at the bright side of losing the jersey, now we won’t have to work as hard to control the stage tomorrow into the Pyrénées,” Antón said. “I am feeling good and the longer climbs will see some attacks. The climb tomorrow isn’t really that difficult. What’s going to be torture will be stages in the north of Spain in Asturias. That should tell us who can win this Vuelta.”
- 1. Imanol Erviti, Caisse d’Epargne , in 4h 13′ 31′
- 2. Romain Zingle, Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne, at 37
- 3. Greg Van Avermaet, Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 37
- 4. Mauro Finetto, Liquigas-Doimo, at 37
- 5. Javier Moreno, Andalucia Cajasur, at 37
- Complete results